A study published in 2012 in the European Journal of Pharmacology suggests that pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), a naturally occurring antioxidant, may offer a nutritional approach to neck pain management after nerve injury. The authors of the study looked at the effects of PQQ on rats with sciatic nerve injury, testing the animals for response to painful heat and mechanical trauma and found that the nutrient significantly reduced pain.
PQQ is a nutrient that interacts with N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors, exerting a neuroprotective effect. This has been seen in animal models of stroke injury, but the benefits of PQQ for neuropathic pain had not been studied up until this research by Gong and colleagues.
PQQ Reduces Inflammation, Pain, and Muscle Atrophy
What the researchers noted was that PQQ was associated with a reduction in the release of pro-inflammatory substances including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) and lipid peroxide malondialdehyde (MDA). Other studies have also shown PQQ to reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
PQQ also inhibited oxidative stress and reduced the degree of muscle atrophy seen in the rats after they had their sciatic nerves injured. This nutrient is particularly important in supporting the health of the mitochondria, which are the energy-producing organelles in cells. Oxidative stress in mitochondria, and resulting mitochondrial dysfunction, is thought to be a major contributor to chronic disease development. PQQ not only appears to help support existing mitochondria, it may actually promote the growth of new mitochondria to give older cells a new lease of life.
What is PQQ?
PQQ was first discovered in 1979 and was at first thought to be a B vitamin. Now, however, it is better understood to act like co-enzyme Q10 and is increasingly popular as a nutritional supplement to support memory and attention, and to help those experiencing stress, insomnia or other sleep difficulties, and fatigue.
PQQ Helps Heal Nerves
In recent years it has also gained attention for its potential to protect neurological function and to promote the repair and healing of damaged nerves. In particular, researchers are hopeful that PQQ will prove useful in the treatment and prevention of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease as it has been seen to inhibit the gene degradation and undesirable protein accumulation involved in these diseases.
PQQ also stimulates nerve growth factor production, protects the nerve from neurotoxins and overstimulation, and has similar antioxidant benefits in the heart which, like the brain, uses energy quickly and produces many toxic metabolites and free radicals in the process.
In another study, PQQ combined with vitamin E and administered to a cut sciatic nerve helped promote nerve regeneration and restore function in the nerve. Such direct administration is likely to remain available only through clinical trials for the time being, but PQQ supplements could help support nerve health and heart health, and reduce some of the additional symptoms of neck pain, such as fatigue, stress, and insomnia.
Azizi, A., Azizi, S., Heshmatian, B., & Amini, K. (2014). Improvement of functional recovery of transected peripheral nerve by means of chitosan grafts filled with vitamin E, pyrroloquinoline quinone and their combination. Int J Surg, 12(1):76-82.
Gong D, Geng C, Jiang L, Aoki Y, Nakano M, Zhong L. (2012). Effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone on neuropathic pain following chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve in rats. Eur J Pharmacol, 15;697(1-3):53-8.